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Craig Berube gives first interview since firing: 'I wouldn't have changed a lot'

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Craig Berube sat down with WIP on Tuesday morning, discussing his tenure as Flyers head coach and some of the controversies he faced here.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Former Philadelphia Flyers head coach Craig Berube sat down for his first interview since being fired by the team earlier this month. Below, see the transcript between Berube and 94WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi.

Cataldi: Prior to the decision by Ron Hextall to remove you as coach, you had expressed some confidence that you would return. Were you surprised when they called you in and said 'That's it?"

Berube: Yeah, you're always a little surprised when you get let go. I expected to come back and coach again but decisions are made. Ron has to do what's best for the hockey team and that's what he did.

Did they give you any explanation for why, Craig?

It was quick. He wanted to let me know. At some point I'll go in and we'll talk about things.

Do you have a sense in your mind why you weren't brought back?

I just think we didn't get enough out of the team. He believed it was a playoff team and I believed it was a playoff team too, but there was some stuff -- injuries, situations that came up that cost us the playoffs. A lot of times it comes down to the coach.

One of the guys that everybody paid attention to was Vinny Lecavalier because they gave him so much money. There was a perception, Craig, that you were not getting enough out of him. Do you agree with that perception?

I did what was best for the team. I thought I gave him every opportunity to produce and perform. I pulled him out of the middle of the ice because I didn't think he could perform in the way we need him to playing that position.

But he did basically at the end publicly state that he would not be back if you were. How did you react to that?

I didn't. [laughter]

Craig Berube the player would have had a more aggressive response.

No. He has every right to. Vinny had a great career and he produced and he did a lot of great things in his career. He feels he's a higher level player still and that's great., he should think like that. But like I said, my job is to do what's best for the hockey team and that's what I do. I don't put a player ahead of the team and I won't do that. The team is the most important thing and that's exactly how I played that card.

You've had a little time to think about it now since the decision. If you had to do the whole thing over again, what would you do differently?

I don't think there's a whole lot I would do differently to be honest with you. Again, when I'm coaching I'm also building a team that builds a foundation to try to put in a philosophy that's gonna try to win us Cups. They can be the same team, not go up and down, know what kind of game you're gonna get when another team comes in there. So I wouldn't have changed a lot.

Defense wins and I believe that and I think that we improved defensively this year quite a bit. Our penalty kill obviously let us down. But other than that, defensively we were pretty solid. A lot of these guys needed to learn how to play both ends of the ice, 200 foot hockey to score goals. It takes a lot of work -- you can watch the playoffs now, how hard it is. How hard you've gotta work. That's what we were building.

I want to ask you about two things you were criticized for. The shootout drives me crazy -- did you emphasize that enough? Because your record in the shootout was awful.

If you put too much pressure on these guys in the shootout they're not going to perform anyhow. Basically it comes down to a mental thing. Claude Giroux is one of the guys who was so reliable in the shootout years ago. He could go down and he always made a nice move, a nice play, and scored. And this year it got to him mentally that every time he went down, he kind of just wanted to get it over with it seemed like. He lost his confidence. It's a confidence thing.

Shootouts are a skill. It's nothing more than a skill and I think that we didn't have enough guys that could perform in that area.

And Chief the other thing was the handling of the goaltending, and specifically Mason. It was an issue, did you play him when he was injured? Tell us how you feel about the way you handled Mason this year.

I didn't have a problem with the way I handled him. If you look at his numbers he's gotten better every year under me. That's the whole object here, to get the best performance out of him. His numbers were outstanding this year. The wins? No, because a little bit of goal production that we didn't give him. He would have had a bunch more wins obviously. But his numbers were great. I have a great relationship with him, there was no problem at all. That game in Toronto was overblown when I put him in there. Nobody knows anything, they just speculate and write things that are untrue.

You did have an issue with your goaltending coach, right Chief?

Nope. Not at all.

You did not? Because he left in the midst of all that.

That was a mutual agreement that he had with the hockey team and he left. It was a private thing.

Overall, when we look at it now. Did you enjoy doing the job?


This is a big one now Chief, because you loved playing. If you could do either, coach the Flyers or play for the Flyers, what's more fun?

[laughter] I think as a player it's more fun. You're just worried about your own game and your own play. Coaching, you're running everything, which I enjoy. You got a lot under you and a lot of responsibility. As a player, you can't be playing the game. Playing the sport is the best thing in the world, but coaching is right after that. Coaching was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it. You just gotta want to have the responsibility, which I do.

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There's more to the interview here, but it started to lack real substance after this point. You can listen to the full thing over at WIP's site.